Boris Johnson praises emergency services during visit to areas hit by Storm Christoph

21 January 2021, 13:39 | Updated: 21 January 2021, 15:08

By Patrick Grafton-Green

Boris Johnson praised the emergency services as he visited flood-stricken areas of northern England in the aftermath of Storm Christoph.

Residents were evacuated overnight in the Didsbury and Northenden areas of Greater Manchester, while homes were flooded following heavy rainfall and snow showers in Cheshire.

Homes in Ruthin and Bangor-on-Dee, North Wales, and Maghull, Merseyside, have also been affected.

READ MORE: Flood victim says furniture has 'just gone' after Storm Christoph wreaks havoc

EXPLAINED: When will Storm Christoph end? Five severe weather warnings still in place

The Prime Minister, who is in Didsbury, thanked the Environment Agency (EA) for their "amazing preparations" and effort in evacuating people, but warned "there will be further rain".

Mr Johnson said the EA had used sluice gates and "improvised emergency flood defences to protect homes".

Boris Johnson speaks to residents who have been evacuated in Withington, Manchester
Boris Johnson speaks to residents who have been evacuated in Withington, Manchester. Picture: PA

"I think 10,000 homes in the Manchester area, in the Didsbury area, have been protected just as a result of what they have been doing overnight,” he said.

"There will be more to come, there will be further rain next week, so it is vital that people who are in potentially affected areas follow the advice and get the Environment Agency flood alerts where they can."

A further £20 million will be invested for the Greater Manchester area as part of a £5.2 billion programme of flood defences over six years, he added.

He said: "Be in no doubt, everybody who visits a flood area, anybody who has been through a flood knows the huge psychological, emotional and financial cost of flooding to people."

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said there had been a repeated pattern of floods followed by an "inadequate response".

He told reporters in London: "We need to have a long-lasting solution to this, not promises that then aren't fulfilled."

Some 180 flood warnings remained in place across England at midday on Thursday, with three "severe" warnings - meaning danger to life - issued for parts of the North West.

A severe flood warning has been issued for the English River Dee at Farndon in Cheshire, where water levels are expected to peak on Thursday afternoon, according to the Environment Agency.

It said the "flooding of property is imminent" and that staff were closely monitoring weather forecasts and river levels.

A severe warning for parts of Manchester was stood down on Thursday morning.

The city council said in a statement: "Water levels had continued to rise overnight as expected, but the Didsbury Basin did not significantly overflow and the worst-case scenario was avoided.

"However, high water levels have flooded some gardens and some roads remain closed.”

Gabrielle Burns-Smith looks out from her flooded home on the outskirts of Lymm in Cheshire
Gabrielle Burns-Smith looks out from her flooded home on the outskirts of Lymm in Cheshire. Picture: PA

However following heavy rain and snow, Greater Manchester Police warned of the risk of "treacherous ice" on the roads and urged drivers to be cautious and only travel if essential.

In north Wales, police began evacuating residents in the early hours of the morning from their homes in Bangor-on-Dee after a severe flood warning was issued for the village by Natural Resources Wales.

"We continue to ask everyone to attend Ysgol Sant Dunawd as soon as possible," North Wales Police said on Twitter.

"Please do not try to leave the area yourself due to the road conditions."

Elsewhere in Wales, emergency teams were called out to protect supplies of the Oxford University and AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine following flooding at Wrexham Industrial Estate.

Residents in Maghull were also advised to leave their properties after a severe flood warning was issued due to "unprecedented" water levels at Dover Brook near the River Alt, Sefton Council said.

But as rain overnight was not as heavy as predicted, this was replaced with a flood warning on Thursday, according to the council.

The EA said that while this was "good news", it expected water levels to remain high throughout the day with flooding to properties still possible.